7 or 8 “top” candidates for Covid-19 vaccine, says WHO chief
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video from the UN Economic and Social Council reporting that the original thought two months ago was that the vaccine can take 12 to 18 months. But he said an accelerated effort is underway, aided by 7.4 billion euros ($ 8 billion) promised a week ago by leaders of 40 countries, organizations and banks for research, treatment and testing.
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He said the $ 8 billion will not be enough, and additional funds will be needed to accelerate the development of a vaccine, but most importantly to produce enough “to make sure this vaccine reaches everyone (and) no one is left behind.” ”
“We have good candidates now,” said Tedros. “The best are around seven or eight. But we have more than a hundred candidates.”
“We are focusing on the few candidates we have who can bring better results and accelerate candidates with better potential,” he said.
Tedros did not identify the main candidates.
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Since January, he said, “WHO has been working with thousands of researchers around the world to accelerate and track vaccine development from the development of animal models to clinical trial designs and everything in between.”
Tedros said there is also a consortium of more than 400 scientists involved in the development and diagnosis of vaccines.
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The WHO chief emphasized that Covid-19 is “highly contagious and a killer”, with more than 4 million cases now reported to WHO and nearly 275,000 lives lost.
While new cases are declining in Western Europe, they are increasing in Eastern Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and other regions, he said.
Tedros said that “the pandemic is teaching us many painful lessons,” especially the importance of having strong national and regional health systems.
“However, according to current trends, more than 5 billion people will not have access to these essential services by 2030” _the ability to see a health worker, access essential medicines and have running water in hospitals, he said .
He emphasized that as the response to Covid-19 continues, nations must also lay the foundation for a healthy, safer and fairer world.
“The world spends about $ 7.5 trillion on health care each year, almost 10 percent of world GDP, but the best investments are to promote health and prevent disease at the primary health care level that will save lives and it will save money, “said Tedros.
UN deputy secretary general Amina Mohammed said in the briefing that all nations are “together” but that the most immediate priority should be the most vulnerable countries and communities.
She called for a new debt relief program for vulnerable countries so that their economies can recover.
And he said measures to protect and stimulate the economy, from cash transfers to credit and loans, should be targeted at women “who make up the majority of people in the hardest hit informal economy and who are at the forefront of the response. of the community. ”
The head of the International Labor Organization said the UN agency estimates that the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs will be lost worldwide in the second quarter of this year, which ends on June 30.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said at the briefing that by comparison only 22 million full-time jobs were lost immediately when the financial crisis hit in 2008-2009, “so you can see that we are in a completely different place. ”
Ryder said it is also often forgotten that 60 percent of the global workforce of 3.3 billion has jobs in the informal economy, most of them women.
He said that the ILO estimates that in the first month of the pandemic, with economic shutdowns and closings, “these people have lost on average 60 percent of their income, their income from work.” And they are concentrated in countries with few resources and the weakest social protection systems, he said.
Ryder called for international cooperation to help those most in need and stepped up efforts to keep companies alive, retain jobs, maintain the link between companies and workers, even when they can’t work now.